Written by Guy Martin
The United Kingdom has donated a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) to the Kenyan Navy in order to improve security along the country‚Äôs coastline, which is plagued by Somali pirates and militant groups.
The boat was handed over to the Kenyan Navy in Mombasa on June 21 by British High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner. The quick-reaction interceptor can carry a fully-armed four-man boarding party. ‚ÄúIt will be used for patrolling tasks, but with its powerful sea-search radar it can Detect, Deter and Interdict,‚Äù the British government said, adding that it would bolster the Kenya Navy‚Äôs ability to tackle piracy threats and other illegal activity in the area.
During the launch, Turner said, that ‚ÄúI am delighted to hand over this high-speed patrol boat today. I expect it to help Kenyan authorities in their efforts to maintain security around the water border areas between Kenya and Somalia. This should make the Kenya Coast safer for everyone, including the large number of British tourists that visit the coast every year to enjoy the fantastic beaches, culture, water-sports and seafood on offer here. Tourists need to know that their safety is being assured. With increased confidence, more British tourists will visit the coast, which in turn will be good for both the Kenyan and UK tourism industry and jobs.‚Äù
The RHIB is the second boat that the UK government has donated to Kenya. In July 2012, the UK Government gave a similar craft to the Maritime Patrol Unit of the Administrative Police in Lamu.
In order to promote security in East Africa, the UK has provided other forms of assistance to Kenya. Over the last year the UK has contributed maritime security surveillance equipment to the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF), eight Explosive Trace Detection machines, security training courses to the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the Anti-Terrorist Police Unit (ATPU), a new police operations centre and vehicles for the ATPU.
Kenya has of late been strengthening its navy, particularly in light of increased Somali pirate activity off its coast and its fight against Somalia-based al Shabaab militia. In August 2011 the navy officially took delivery of its KNS Nyayo and KNS Umoja patrol ships, which returned from a two and a half year refurbishment by Fincantieri in Italy.
In June 2011 the Kenyan Navy received the patrol boat La Rieuse (renamed KNS Harambee III), which was donated by France for anti-piracy and other security duties.
In August 2012 the 85 metre long warship KNS Jasiri sailed in to the port of Mombasa, becoming the largest vessel in the Kenyan Navy fleet. The offshore patrol vessel has been involved in fighting al Shabaab in Somalia as well as other security duties along the Kenyan coast.
Jane‚Äôs Sentinel Security Assessment notes that the Kenyan Navy is the best equipped force on the East African coast and benefits from regular training exercises and assistance from the United Kingdom, United States, French and South African navies.
Its primary objective is protecting Kenya‚Äôs 500 km long coastline, particularly against the rising threat of piracy from its northern neighbour Somalia. According to Kenya‚Äôs Daily Nation, the country loses Sh37 billion (US$414 million) every year as piracy affects trade, fisheries and tourism. The Kenyan Shippers Council has estimated that piracy pushes up prices of imported goods by 10%.